After 10 short days of being back in the UK and having squeezed in seeing some of my friends, seeing family, attending a wedding and selling Bertie the truck it was time for us to jet out of the country again. This time we were on our way to Florida…it was time to make a dream a reality.
Our sole intention at our destination was to scour the coastline looking for a suitable yacht for us to live aboard.
We were anticipating it would take around a month to achieve this so we’d arranged to pick up a rental car at the airport to give us flexibility for viewings. We’d booked our first 2 nights accomodation via Air BnB, costing around $30 per night. This was the cheapest form of accomodation we could find, even camping wasn’t much cheaper and we became aware that our accomodation costs could mount up considerably. We discussed whether we’d be willing to sleep in a car again as we’d done in Europe in order to keep costs down. We’d decided against it and as such had only booked a compact rental car.
On arrival at the rental car desk the salesman made many attempts to get us to upgrade…”How about an MPV? Convertible? 4×4? I can do you a great discount”. Much to his disappointment, we repeatedly refused his suggestions as the additional costs were considerable for our month long rental. After he realised we weren’t going for the bait he revealed to us “We can actually do you a free upgrade as we don’t have any of the compact cars available” Result! We drove off in a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan MPV for no extra cost.
The following day we were checking out the car when we realised the back seats folded down entirely flat…perfect amount of space for two people to sleep I thought. As I caught Ben’s eye I knew he was thinking the same. Within minutes we were off to Walmart to buy an inflatable mattress. I reckon we saved over £1000 on accomodation costs over that following month. Admittedly most of our camping spots were not very picturesque, but they were free!
To assist with arranging yacht viewings we bought ourselves an American SIM package including data. Over the next few weeks we spent most days viewing boats advertised for sale, both online privately and listed with brokers.
We’d viewed some yachts back in the UK and thought we’d want one somewhere around the 32-36ft mark, heavy displacement and a full keel. We began by looking at listings that fitted this criteria, and then decided to widen our searches….bigger yachts, smaller yachts, fin and centre board keels, lighter yachts, ones kept in great condition and those that needed a fair amount of work doing to them.
We’d started our search on the West coast of Florida and had made our way south, down to the The Keys, Miami and then up the East coast, carrying out viewings all the way.
After viewing around 50 boats we still hadn’t found ‘the one’. Don’t get me wrong…we found a couple of yachts that were utterly gorgeous and perfect for someone, but not quite right for us. Some were too expensive, not enough cockpit locker space, too small, needed too much spent on them or, one problem that came up frequently, not enough head height for Ben. By the time we’d got around to Fort Lauderdale on the East coast (approx 3 weeks after our search began) we’d become a bit disheartened. One boat yard we went to represented a boat graveyard, dilapidated old boats hauled out of the water years ago, sat there ever since. Boats that had been loved once, but not anymore.
After a string of bad viewings one broker, John, informed us that they had a boat on their books that sounded like it was exactly what we wanted, but it wasn’t for sale yet. The owners had been cruising on it for years and had brought it back to Florida to sell, but it wasn’t available for another 3 months. This was too long for us to wait.
We continued our search up the coast, our requirements still changing. We’d realised we wanted a shallow draft for the Bahamas. We would be more comfortable on a boat bigger than we initially planned for. We needed some freezer space. We didn’t want to buy a boat still with its original engine. We’d ruled out some yacht manufacturers all together as we didn’t like their build quality and some designs had been thrown out the window too.
Our minds kept wondering if the boat that had been suggested to us by John could be suitable for us. It was a C&C, a brand that we had looked at before but the model we had viewed just didn’t, excuse the pun, float our boat. We were curious, so we contacted John and suggested that maybe the owners would allow us to view their model, a Landfall 42. We received a recall from him saying they had agreed, so we headed back down the coast a couple of days later.
As we approached the C&C on the water she looked beautiful, really lovely lines. We met the owners and they showed us around. Initially on deck she appeared in great condition, the cockpit was spacious, sails in good condition, new all grip, etc etc. I had a good feeling about this boat. I stepped down the companionway and into the cabin. A huge smile formed across my face. The layout was great, there was a good amount of space in the galley, a large dining table, plenty of storage and it had all been kept in top notch condition. The teak and holly floor was perfectly varnished. I turned to Ben who had joined me and said “This is our boat!” His smile and raised eyebrows told me he loved it too! Forward of the salon there was a master cabin with sleeping space for two. From here you could access the head which was also accessible from the salon area. There was an aft cabin for guests, a TV, air con, 3 burner stove, large fridge with freezer and….plenty of headroom!
We had fallen for a boat that technically wasn’t even for sale.
After the viewing we expressed we were very interested in the boat and John spoke with the owners. They expressed that whilst they were going to wait to put it on the market, they would in fact sell now if we were serious.
We went back for a second viewing, asked plenty of questions and really thought about if this was the boat for us. We had concerns as the hull was balsa cored, which could lead to a number of major problems. The owners were still living aboard, as they had been so for years prior. They’d been cruising the world and as such had the boat fully kitted out. They were in a position where they could leave virtually everything behind. From crockery/cutlery to wet weather gear, and from tool kits and spare parts to scuba diving kit.
Further negotiations resulted in an accepted purchase price, pending a survey on the boat. The survey took place a few days later and thankfully had great results. The sale went ahead!
After having spent a few days with the previous owners showing us the ins and outs of the boat, the keys were handed over and the boat was ours!
We spent the next few weeks getting used to the boat, taking her out for some day sails to see how she handled and to practice tacking and such. We also carried out a couple of minor repairs and replacements as we prepared for our first trip from Florida to the Bahamas.
I’ve created a vlog covering our first few weeks on the boat to show you some of what we did: You can find it here